Be Your Own Boss! The Presentation
Can you make money online by publishing your own blog? This is a question I get asked a thousand times from a thousand different people. Truth is, you can be your own boss, if you are willing to sacrifice a guaranteed salary and a no-worries job with placing yourself on the front line and questioning every single step you make.
Photo credit: Robin & Batman - Batman by Adrian Tranquilli - Photography by 7th Floor - MAP
Therefore, you can indeed make money with a blog, but you need to understand that the type of blog that will get you visibility, exposure, authority and also money, is one that is generally different from the personal journals that most bloggers have. While the technology behind a blog may be the same, the editorial style, focus and content quality can vary a great deal from those who publish a blog as their own diary, to those who decide to use the same technology to create slick online topic-specific magazines.
The online world offers indeed unique opportunities for those that do have something to say, to share, to exchange with others. Rarely so, when all you have got to share are only your personal stories and thoughts.
To become your own boss, while leveraging the potential of the online universe you may want to consider becoming a small, micro editor of yourself, creating a media outlet that focuses and reports on a specific topic you are truly passionate about.
If you put enough care, attention and time into this personal publishing opportunity, you can definitely reap some revenue fruits nobody would have been able to conceive just a few years back.
But it takes hard work, a will to learn, open eyes, curiosity, and lots of humbleness to get anywhere on this highly trafficked road. The trick is not one of starting a blog, but one of finding your passion, and using it a way to help others find information that would be otherwise very hard to get to.
To give you a rough map that helps you become your own boss, I am sharing here a short presentation with a few tips and pointers, on what I believe is needed to create a successful online personal micro-publishing business.
Become your own boss
The other day an old friend of mine called and said to me:
"Listen Robin, I would like to do a blog... I have lots of things I want to say, I would like to earn some money doing this and see whether I can create a work alternative to my Bank job.
I have already made up my mind....
Do not try to discourage me....
Tell me rather... What do I need to start?"
Find your passion
- Find what you really like
- Give way to your true interests - follow your passions - think of what you would do the whole time if you didn't have to work (aside from eating, sleeping and loving) and focus on that.
- Do not follow what others do as a reference for what choices you have available to yourself.
Create your shack
- Do not think of being able to do it all by yourself.
- Unless you are an expert geek who knows everything about "valid" XHTML, CSS, DIV layers, PHP scripting and more, I would suggest you to find someone who will give you a hand everytime you want to do something beyond your technical abilities (add new components to your site, change the layout, etc.).
- Find a server for you - avoid "cheap" and "free" offerings with the excuse that "...I am just starting"
- Select a blogging software which will not make your life too complicated.
Some blogging software:
eLance - http://www.elance.com
Movable Type - http://www.movabletype.org
Link Sleuth - http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
Niche, Theme, Focus
- Find a specific "theme - topic".
- The more precise and defined, the easier and faster it will be for you to build a revenue around it (as long as a commercial sector of products and services exists around your selected area of interest)
- Do not fear of "niching" yourself too much. If your theme can be clearly defined and if Google shows relevant results and ads when you place a query containing your theme (it should be a 2-4 words definition) you are ready to set up your micro publishing house.
WordTracker - http://www.wordtracker.com
HitTail - Tap the long tail to find your niche
- If you can, write daily.
- Be regular in your publishing schedule.
- Publish at the same hour or at around the same time each time.
- If you cannot write daily, consider the possibility of integrating some newsmastering activity with your writing / reporting one
Become a Newsmaster
- A newsmaster is a News-DJ
- A newsmaster selects, edits, filters, corrects and publishes the most relevant news for a very specific topic.
- No RSS, no newsmaster - Newsmastering is made possible thanks to the huge quantity of content s and news in RSS format, which standardizes contents by separating them from their looks and from the sources from which they are gathered.
- To be a newsmaster you need one or more tools that would allow you to aggregate, filter, deduplicate and splice together a thematic news digest via the Internet.
- By devoting a relatively limited time to this activity you can offer a useful service to your readers, which keeps your site updated even when you don't have new articles.
MySyndicaat - http://www.mysyndicaat.com
Yahoo Pipes - http://pipes.yahoo.com
Quality not Quantity
- Spell check - your contents before publsihing them: always
- Let someone else read your text before publishing it.
- Add reference links without economy - as well as define always new terms and buzzwords.
- If you can, write in more than one language. If not, find some partners that can help you do it.
- Read and research what others have written on a topic, before writing an article yourself.
- Take up new topics, those that interest you the most, instead of always giving echo to what others talk about.
- Do a quality control pass also after having published your article. You may be able to spot lots of extra things you didn't see in draft.
Online spell checkers:
Make Yourself Be Found
- Title your articles effectively. Throw away all traditional journalism rules and re-think how to create titles that will help your potential readers find what you have written about without knowing you (via search engines).
- Make sure that page titles on your site contain the title of your articles first and not the name of your blog.
- Give a descriptive and meaningful name to your blog / site and if you can, select a domain name and URL that are as much descriptive and meaningful too.
Make Yourself Be Read
- Learn what chunking is and start using it in a methodical fashion.
- Use bolds and hyperlinks untraditionally as visual hook points that can help your readers find your key content more easily.
- Line length - do not let your readers' screen resolution and monitor size determine how difficult it will be to read your contents.
- Attention to details - extreme care in watching after details may appear secondary to a reporter, but it does generally instill a sense of credibility, competence and professionalism to the contents and topics you write about.
- Utilize images to support your articles everytime you can.
- Select images with care - this is a little art in and of itself that requires skill and dedication - start by modelling and emulating the work of others.
- Consider text and other page components as a whole visual universe. Go and discover what is Information Design and apply it ruthlessly to everything you do.
If you want them to return, send them away
- Provide links and pointers to external resources without hesitation.
- Go the extra mile and find complementary sources and references to your content and promote them.
- Select the best from others and offer it to your readers.
- To become a point of reference for others, you need to become a hub for all information that is relevant to the topic you cover.
- Think of yourself as a guide, a cicerone, a tour operator, a content dj.
Open the conversation
- Open comments on your site.
- Pose questions to your readers: they always know more than you do.
- Make it easy for your readers to post and follow all comments on your site.
Create your own "brand"
- Think like a free agent.
- Discover what sets you apart and market it shamelessly.
- Get visible.
- Stop networking, and build a network.
- Add value - and then some.
- Accelerate your brand power by getting in sync with a major trend in your field and moving to the head of it. "
I would add:
- Marry an important, ethical cause as a complement to what you like to do
- Share before looking for profit
- Help others become as successful as you
- Question yourself and your approach systematically - get forever
Promote your contents
- Utilize a Creative Commons license.
- Let others use your contents freely, expecting only proper credit for your work.
- Do not limit, but rather help others take up and re-use your contents.
- Learn all you can about RSS and use it to the max to distribute your contents online.
- Submit your RSS feed to the most popular RSS search engines and blog directories.
- Leverage the potential offered by social bookmarking tools.
- Help your feed / content be included within tools and services that re-distribute content to others.
- Provide always your bio, references and link-backs in the bottom of your articles.
- Comment with relevance on blogs and important news sites and forums.
Adopt a set of complementary services dedicated to monetizing your quality content. Here some ideas with which to start:
- Amazon Associate Program
- Commission Junction
- Zlio Shops
If you are a videomaker, consider also:
- Direct advertising and sponsorships
- DVD or Print collections
- Ad-free access to your site
- Access to Premium paid research / content
- Google AdSense is the monetization tool that offers the greatest opportunity to convert quality contents on the web into revenues that can abundantly pay back production costs.
- Study with attention the placement, the color and the style of the AdSense ad strips that you integrate in your web pages.
- Remember that placing more ads doesn't always correspond to making more money.
Track, Monitor, Test
- Measure constantly traffic trends on your site, how individual ads work anmd possible technical issues you may have to address.
- Test, test, test. Experiment with a scientific approach alternative solutions to all that you do onlien and adopt those that work better. Then keep refining.
- Track your readers' preferences, as much as their dislikes. Stats can tell you a great deal toward learning what works best and what doesn't work with the audience that follows you. Following this data you can continuosly improve your editorial direction and the types of services you may want to offer to your readers.
Clicktracks - www.clicktracks.com
Browsercam - www.browsercam.com
After I wrote to my friend all these things, he replied back :
"Hey Robin, I thought that making money with blogs was all about posting some cool video or new tool that just came out and pastering ads all around it.
I now understand it takes a lot more effort, focus, attention and care than I ever would have thought of...
So, while I can see this is really something anyone could do, I now understand how much of a difference it makes the approach, style and quality one places into it.
Thanks for making this clear to me."
- Be Your Own Boss Is The Only Way Up
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- Dave Pollard Interviews Robin Good
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Robin Good -
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